Obama administration officials, as well as U.S. lawmakers and European diplomats, passionately made the argument this spring that tough sanctions on Iran were necessary to avoid war. But contrary to their predictions, the drumbeat for war -- particularly from Israel – has only increased since the U.N. Security Council adopted a new resolution against Tehran in June.
The latest in this crescendo of voices is Jeffrey Goldberg’s article in the Atlantic, "Point of No Return." As the title suggests, it essentially makes the case (though in an uncharacteristically subtle manner by neoconservative standards) that there are no choices left -- war is a fait accompli, and the only question is whether it will be initiated by Israel or by the United States.
It is important to note that the aim of this unfolding campaign may not be to pressure Obama into military action. It could just as much serve to portray Obama as weak and indecisive on national security issues that are of grave concern to the U.S. and that are of existential nature to Israel. This portrayal will give the Republicans valuable ammunition for the November congressional elections as well as for the 2012 presidential race.
Indeed, the likely political motivation for this unfolding campaign should not be underestimated. Just as much that the building blocks of the Iraq war were put into place under the Clinton years -- most importantly with the passage of the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998 -- serious preparation for selling an Iran war to the American public under a Republican president (Palin?) in 2013 must be undertaken now, both to establish the narrative for that sell and to use the narrative to remove any obstacles in the White House along the way.
But the long-term risk of a war that is boldly framed as a test of an American president’s commitment to Israel should not be easily dismissed.
Dr. Trita Parsi is the author of "Treacherous Alliance: The Secret Dealings of Iran, Israel and the United States" and recipient of the Council on Foreign Relation's 2008 Arthur Ross Silver Medallion and the 2010 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Improving World Order